Winter fun at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Looking for a quick weekend get away from the Bay Area? Look no further than Calaveras Big Trees State Park area.

At only 2.5 hours from Oakland.. its as easy to get to as Santa Cruz and definelty worth the drive!

The higher you climb the more snow you see! For a coastal gal like me snow is really exciting and my inner child gets really excited… even if it is a light coating on the side of the road.

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We lucked out last minute and were able to reserve a cabin for week of… always great to check and see if there have been any late cancelations!calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8b62

Enjoying a milk stout after unloading the car… very tiring. hacalaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8b65calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8b6b

Quick hike before sundown! Really beautiful to see the sun go down through the trees.calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8b6d

Wood stove fire place… perfect place for S’MORES! Don’t think I have ever stuffed my face with more s’mores. calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8b79Here are a few trail options that you will probably want to check out before heading out! As always with State Parks and National Parks I love asking the rangers for their personal tips and tricks!

Trails Overview

South Grove Trail

Best Trails

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After a day of snow-hiking a brewski is much needed! AND everyone thinks so… Snowshoe was packed! Staff is friendly but be prepared to wait with a big group or for dinner! You can get beer to go in a growler or bottles. Not the best beer I have ever had.. but I am a beer snob. I will say that it def helped hit the spot after a day of ‘hard work’.calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb1

Our little cabin had a full kitchen so we were able to make dinner and breakfast which was awesome!

On our last morning, my Friends made probably the most amazing French Toast I have ever had with their homemade sourdough bread. How can food bring such joy and then sadness when you realize you can’t have it everyday!

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I also was able to do a lot of weaving over the weekend which was really nice! It was great to sit by the fire and all have our individual tasks going. calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb2calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb4

One more hike before the short but windy road home! calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bbacalaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb9calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb8calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bb7

Such a cool weekend! Really glad we were able to take a last minute trip into the Mountains for some snow play and R&R. Winter is steadily becoming one of my FAV seasons.calaverasbigtreesstateparkunadjustednonraw_thumb_8bbb

A little more information about visiting Calaveras in the snow.

The Warming Hut – Open weekends and holidays from Thanksgiving through late March  12 pm—4 pm. Get your hot chocolate or warm up by the fire. Pretty crowded but cute idea. 

Snowshoe Tours – Offered on Saturdays and some holidays at 1 pm.  Bring your own showshoes or borrow a pair of ours. Meet at Warming Hut.

On Your Own – Snow play is allowed in the North Grove area.  Build a snow person, ride a sled, or simply marvel at the beauty.  Bring your own cross-country skis or snowshoes and travel the North Grove trail or the 3.5 mile loop out the park road and back through the campground.

On Saturdays at 1:00pm we offer a guided hike through the North Grove area of the park.  Come enjoy the beauty and grandeur of the park while learning about why this place is so special.  The hike is approximately 1.5 hours long and is open to all family members (except dogs).  

In the event we have enough snow in the park the hike will be a snowshoe hike.  Some snowshoes are available for use on a first come, first served basis.  Snowshoes are available for rent in the town of Arnold located three miles west on Highway 4.

The cost of the hike is free with paid admission to the park; meet at the Visitor Center and wear appropriate footwear.  For more information, please call the Visitor Center at (209) 795-3840 or (209) 795-7980.

Libation: Snowshoe Brewing Company in Arnold

From Bryce to Zion (Springdale, UT)

We woke up to negative degree temps in the morning so none of us were all that interested in getting outside for sunrise!  We did however attempt to make coffee outside on Chelsea’s campstove… not the best idea… apparently propane does not work well under these cold temps. The propane was sputtering out which lead to huge flames. We decided to pack that up, get hotel lobby coffee ( not bad if you take a bite of peanut butter granola bread first) and head to Bryce and the visitor center to learn of any trail closures.brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2134

If you have snowshoes this would be a good place to bring em out, alternatively you can rent them out in town at the hotel/restaurant/store.  Side note : Bryce has the best looking park rangers I have ever seen… not sure why they all ended up in Bryce but it was a nice surprise.  brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2141

Again we started at Sunrise, walked down to Queen’s Garden then to Navajo Trail, side stepped to Wall Street, then on to Peekaboo Loop, Bryce Point and back up to Sunset then across the rim to sunrise.  There were a lot of people around the rim but once you started hiking the trails were pretty desolate.  We ended up hiking for about 6/6.5 miles 4/4.5 hours. Again, layers are a great idea. We got really warm while hiking but once we got into the shadow of a hoodoo it would get chilly.brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2142brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2144brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2145brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2146brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2147brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2148brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2150brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2152brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2153brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2154brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2155brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2157brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2162brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2163brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2166brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2167brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2170brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2171brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2175brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2180

Another day of crampons and hiking poles! Highly reccomend. 100% needed these for the way up sunset! People were slipping and falling left and right.brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2186brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2188brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2190brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2200brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2202brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2204brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2205brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2220

Bryce is 100% one of the most amazing places I have ever been. It is beautiful beyond comprehension. Just looking back through these photos I am shocked that I experienced something so amazing… these aren’t photoshopped. They were taken by me on an iphone it is pretty remarkable.

Once we were done with our hike we decided to head towards Zion so we could start the next morning in Zion. On the way we made guacamole in the car… not the most driver friendly snack! brycecanyonnationalparkimg_2219

No campsites at Watchman Campground in Zion! Every other campground we had been to was empty.. but Zion was fairly warm, somewhere in the 40s, so everyone was out in droves. If coming around new years I would highly reccomend booking ahead or being able to wing it like us!

I won’t get into details… but we ended up having to finish cooking our dinner in a parking lot. Some of the best food I have ever eaten! Once we finished dinner we decided to head into Springdale and try to figure out where to stay.

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Much to our surprise, right outside the park we encountered a shining sign with the words ‘Brew Pub’ – we looked at each other and Chelsea pulled in the parking lot. Our server was really nice and gave us tons of helpful advice. Such as trails we should go on, where to rent our Narrows gear etc. All the beer on tap is less than 4% per Utah law, but for 4% it ain’t half bad!zionnationalparkimg_2223

Our server also told us we could head to the Bit & Spur if we wanted some higher alcohol beers… so off we went and were pleasantly surprised by the local beers we sampled.  zionnationalparkimg_2224zionnationalparkimg_2226

Looking forward to a good nights sleep before a day of exploring Zion. Since we arrived at night we were looking forward to what we would be greeted with upon sunrise.